Grocery shopping on a weekly basis has dropped by 20% among U.S. consumers since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but many are now spending more each trip, new research from consumer packaged goods (CPG) sales and marketing firm Acosta finds.
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in mid-March, the percentage of consumers doing their grocery shopping once a week or more fell from 67% to 47%, according online surveys that Acosta conducted from June 26 to July 1, its ninth round of coronavirus research.
Meanwhile, the share of consumers shopping less frequently has climbed. Twenty percent of respondents said they shopped for groceries two to three times per month before the outbreak, but that percentage now stands at 27%, Acosta said. Likewise, 13% of those polled reported grocery shopping once a month or less prior to the pandemic, whereas 26% said they grocery shop at that frequency since the crisis began.
But many shoppers are making those fewer grocery store trips count. Acosta’s research found that 37% of consumers now spend more on each grocery trip versus their pre-COVID-19 food shopping purchases. Of those spending more on groceries, 59% of shoppers named eating at home more as their chief reason. Fifty-two percent cited higher prices, and 50% said they’re stocking up more.
In terms of total household spending, 50% of shoppers surveyed report spending more on groceries. Forty-five percent said they spend less on non-essential items, while 20% are spending more on these products. More consumers also have embraced food-at-home, with 66% spending less on eating out than they did pre-pandemic, compared with 13% now spending more on food-away-from-home.
“With concern levels remaining high and rising in hotspots around the country, most consumers are choosing to stay home, even as many non-essential businesses reopen,” explained Darian Pickett, CEO of Acosta. “Shopping frequency has drastically declined since March, and with three-quarters of shoppers fearing another shutdown due to the second wave of the virus, shoppers will continue to eat at home for the foreseeable future. We expect the trends of stocking up and spending more on groceries to remain popular.”
Indeed, Acosta’s latest COVID-19 survey revealed that 75% of consumers think a second wave of coronavirus infections could swing many areas of the country back to shutting down businesses and public spaces, after states and municipalities had begun reopening in late May.
Worries about the pandemic is highest in the South and West, with 44% and 37% respectively saying they’re more concerned now versus the start of the outbreak. Thirty-two percent of respondents in the Northeast and 26% in the Midwest reported being more concerned. In those two regions, 56% said they’re just as concerned as when the pandemic began, versus 50% for the West and 47% for the South.
Because of the high level of concern about the virus, shoppers haven’t been visiting places that have reopened, Acosta said.
Seventy-nine percent of consumers report that retail shops have reopened in their area, yet just 37% said they’ve visited them, according to the survey. The percentages were similar for hair/nail salons (76% reopened vs. 30% visited), dine-in restaurants (73% vs. 27%), parks and outdoor destinations (68% vs. 21%) and businesses/offices (64% vs. 17%). Only 32% of respondents said entertainment venues have reopened in their area, and just 4% have visited them.